Understanding where are we going – getting behind the strategy

What is your Business strategy?

There is a common thread which exists across organisations of all sizes, and poses a real and serious challenge for the creation of value – this is about how well we understand the organisations strategy, direction, and the purpose of the business.

This is an area full of challenge. The very existence of a business or organisation strategy is often opaque for those in the organisation; a statement which doesn’t link to our daily existence, or feels irrelevant to our activities. Often, the stated strategies are at a level which are meaningless, and are hard to translate into any form of practice.

However, we need to go back to the fundamentals of what is needed for the organisation to operate as a coherent whole, working together to achieve the strategic intent.

Imagine for a moment an organisation where strategy is unclear. Any particular decision or project being set up has no anchor to test if it’s overall direction and deliverables are fit for purpose or will help the organisation drive towards its strategic outcomes. Worse than that, it is possible for different divisions or projects to work against others which are already underway. Extending this, it’s also possible to see that it becomes really hard to prioritise different activities if the overall strategy is not clear. 

As any of these issues will cause stress in the organisation as different factions / business units or even individuals, we need to see if we can work in a more structured way. The strategic direction for an organisation needs to be clearly understood by those making suggestions and decisions in order that the direction of travel is maintained.

The next challenge is how clear the strategic direction is. It needs to be written so that the various strands of the strategy being used are both clear and interwoven. As an example, the strategic intent of providing lowest price, highest quality and fastest delivery is unlikely to be achievable as the three elements tend to work against each other at some level. We also need to understand the intent of direction. Highest quality can mean many things and we need to make sure we both understand what that means in our particular marketplace, but also that there is shared understanding inside the business of ‘higher quality’.

The test of the quality of the strategy is that it can be used to distinguish between courses of action: the one progressing strategy more completely is likely to be the right choice.

Of course, this implies that the strategy is correct. Review and update is appropriate, and making sure that it flexes as external conditions demand is good practice. However, it can’t be altered on a whim, or to try to follow a brief fashion. That will just breed confusion.

Our last step is to make sure that the strategy is bought into by those defining new approaches and implementing policies. This is not just a case of publishing the document, but we need to make sure individuals have thought properly about the strategy, and about the ways, they will aim to drive towards that strategy.

None of this happens without intent and action, so picking up your business strategy today, testing your understanding of it and making sure you are aligning with it is the next thing to do.

We’d be happy to discuss how to do this with you and to help you accelerate the delivery of your strategy and the competitive advantage that suggests.

Contact us at www.smartbrowndog.com

Mark Hubbard

Smart Brown Dog Ltd

UK

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